Thinking about Spam and False Pastors

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

Matthew 7:15

Today I read something which probably everyone else here realised, but I did not. It was a quote from John MacArthur, on the Defending Contending blog, explaining that the ‘sheeps clothing’ reference in the NT is not actually about someone dressed up to look like a sheep, but is about someone wearing a garment (most likely a cloak) made of wool – the mark of a shepherd at that time.

We all recognise here that that there are false teachers and prophets within the church, but what I had not realised was that Jesus’ reference in this verse was so clearly aimed at false pastors (being those who look after and lead sheep).

Here is the Defending Contending Article, which is a quote from John MacArthur.

So these are people who say all the right things about God, use all the right language, and seem to conform to what we would expect a pastor to look like. But inwardly they are not what they appear. Their fruit will show this – how do they actually treat other people? How do they treat their staff, congregation and family? Do they have good relationships with people where the evidence of love can be seen? Are they not only speaking about Jesus, but being an example of Jesus, in their actions over time? Not just in grand or public gestures, but in the smaller, day to day things, that don’t generate publicity?

After all, we are to be led by those who live their lives as Jesus would live them – its about living, not just talking, managing events, or even knowing scripture back to front.

This blog gets a lot of spam which is filtered out, and the current trend is for spammers to make lots of flattering remarks or very positive statements so that people will accept their remarks and include them in their site. But the links in their names will often take you to some kind of money making site with content that has no relationship to our subject matter here.

There’s a parallel here to those false pastors – you will probably hear a lot of very positive, pleasant statements that aren’t disturbing at all. But if you follow them through in detail, and do all that they say, you may end up somewhere that has no relationship to following Christ, and you may end up wasting a lot of your money and time in something very unfruitful.

So perhaps these pastors are like spam. Fortunately, after a while, you can come to recognise them by various hallmarks, learning to distinguish between them and the real thing. The real thing is to be valued and appreciated.


11 thoughts on “Thinking about Spam and False Pastors

  1. I’ve always found it odd that the bible casts believers or Israel as sheep.

    Sheep from what I know, are dumb animals. If the analogy is kept is that not condescending to the body of Christ?

    Also – if those aren’t lead around like sheep because we’ve seen certain shepherds for what they are – does that mean as soon as sheep ‘see’ they become shepherds?

    Totally lost in thought over this.

  2. Christ is the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the earth – so being called sheep is quite significant. And God can be as “condescending” as He likes – seeing that He stepped down to save his elect.

  3. The sheep analogy works in the sense that shepherds look after sheep, and sheep feed where they are led and don’t know where they are going, but follow their shepherd. And there are probably other aspects of truth there as well.

    An analogy isn’t a literal statement. Its an illustration but not of everything, and I don’t think its meant to be condescending, although sometimes humans use it in a condescending way, to mean people who can’t think for themselves.

    Jesus called us His friends; that is not condescending at all. So in context with other parts of Jesus teaching, I don’t think condescension was meant.

    We may all be shepherds in some fashion. Most of us will at some point have people that we look after, whether it be our own kids, or a friend who in some area looks to us for help establishing their direction. At another time it might be us looking for the same help. But we are also all His sheep, and never stop being so, because we all have one Shepherd, in Christ. That should stop us from becoming arrogant and thinking we are above other sheep.

    “…does that mean as soon as sheep ’see’ they become shepherds?” – S&P

    He even said that we need ‘eyes to see’ in order to follow him – so perhaps you could say that to become His sheep, we need to be able to ‘see’. 🙂

  4. And He says my “sheep” hear my voice…… leaves out the goats! That makes it quite a qualification.

  5. I know in the Old Testamental period, pagan kings were often referred to as shepherds. Sometimes the word ‘shepherd’ carried a sense of deity as it was a king’s job to govern souls.

  6. Yes, we dont know that when Jesus used the image of the shepherd that he was referring to Pastors as we now know them. He may have been referring to Kings or deities.

    Mostly I think its unhelpful to label someone as either a wolf or a good shepherd. Most people are a combination of both. Even the Pastor that I knew who was preying on his flock, was a good person in a number of other ways had a genuine call originally from God and was trying to follow it in the best way he knew. Its just that he went astray due to weaknesses from his past life, and was not able to acknowledge them.

  7. There are some people though who do have a completely false agenda. They really may be simply motivated by a desire for status, money or power. You find them in every walk of life, including the pastorate. The best ones will be the most convincing.

    These are not to be confused with honest people doing their best to serve God, and like the rest of us, sometimes stuffing up, misunderstanding or incompletely understanding scripture, and sometimes going down a wrong path. If their hearts are to follow Christ, He will eventually correct them. If they act in love the whole way through regardless, then any damage will be minimised, and good will still be done – and we will see fruit in their lives.

    There are probably more of the latter than the former. Nonetheless, its good to be aware that the former do exist.

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